[This is a re-post (originally posted in October 2012) as the next few blogs would be; I deleted the original posts by mistake]
"Studying the effects of the internet on business"
A few months after I entered the internet industry in 1991 operating a pioneering ISP in Singapore, I thought wow! A revelation....like looking into a volcano, with things fascinating bubbling up. You knew something huge was happening. You knew it will change things around us. But you couldn’t quite grasp its mechanics except for the obvious long terms. It was all too new then, a puzzle ever since. I have never left the industry and have continued to track, study and analyse what to me now seem a unique internet business model, on the sideline.
This is a blog to share my thoughts on the subject with an Asian bent and to invite the likeminded to partake...to figure out how the internet really works, its mechanics, its deeper impact, its application, positing its directions perhaps. With the internet at 30% of its cycle, there is much more to come in particular the opportunities of an internet economy. It would be broad, exploring the socio-economic-political realms. I’m a technologist and entrepreneur but no economist or politician.
I noticed that the iconic internet companies (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc) and now the new-generation web companies (AirBnB, Pinterest, etc) operate in a somewhat different sphere from traditional companies. An example is Google’s Adwords. A traditional business would give you top billing if you pay top dollars, but that’s not how Google seem to decide, otherwise Wikipedia would not rank so highly in search. Quality of content plays a huge part. This focused my thoughts into the business model and it seems they operate with a different set of ‘rules’, which I would sometimes refer to as internet rules to differentiate, and emanating from its unique internet business model.
To me, soon after I started operating an ISP (internet service provider), it became obvious that the future telco is the ISP. In fact the term telco is moot as telecommunications today is really data communications. By looking at the mechanics or the ‘rules’ operating the internet, one can see that voice calls, like email today, would one day be totally free.
So far, I have distilled some 20 or so ‘rules’ used by the forefront companies; some unique, others re-definitions. Crowdsourcing is the obvious one. If Henry Ford’s car assembly lines created the modern factory in the industrial age, crowdsourcing is the equivalent in the information age, creating information factories. Instead of factory workers, it is us, the consumers who willingly and unwittingly become the factory hands. The ‘rules’ are all part business rules, part culture, part systems, part techniques that is now clearer with the success of the iconic internet companies. Together with understanding conundrums such as the-value-of-free, these ‘rules’ could perhaps be expected to drive economies increasingly based on information.
Please share your views. Taking a line from another blogger “if I share my ignorance, other people will teach me.”
In the next post, I’ll posit a case for economic production in an information economy.
Thanks for reading!
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